Defining Free Software Business( was Re: GNU Business Network Definition comments)

Shane M. Coughlan shane at
Wed Jun 21 00:57:59 UTC 2006

Hash: SHA256

Stefano Maffulli wrote:
> On Tue, 2006-06-13 at 10:40 +1000, Ben Finney wrote:
>> What we *can* do is define criteria that a business needs to meet to
>> be called a "free software business".  
> I like to reason around 'ethics' and have suggested the following:
>    A company that daily accepts its social responsibility towards 
>    reaching freedom in the digital age, respecting the ideals 
>    contained in the GNU Manifesto.
> but honestly I don't think it is fit, because it refers to the GNU
> Manifesto, that is too long and difficult to understand.  Can we make a
> better version?

Hi Stefano!

If we are to attempt to create an ethical definition of a Free Software
Business without the GNU Manifesto then perhaps we can refer to the
ideal of the four freedoms of software?

"A company that daily accepts its social responsibility towards reaching
freedom in th digital age, respecting the ideals enshrine in the four
freedoms of the GNU GPL."

Two things about this bother me.  (1) the use of the GNU GPL as a term
(it's not accessible to people who don't already know about it).  (2)
The wording sounds a little clunky.

Using the same concept but refining the words...

"A company that embraces its social responsibility in promoting freedom
in the digital age, respecting the ideals of unrestricted freedom in the
 use, modification and improvement of technology."

This type of wording might have the advantage of not referring to
software but instead encouraging an overarching commitment to digital
freedom.  Perhaps like the manifesto without needing so many words?

The problem with ethics is that businesses often don't prioritize them
in the decision-making process.  If a business does not approach
problems from an ethically marketed perspective (e.g. Starbucks,
Bodyshop) then it might be hard to 'sell' this idea.  Then again, there
are many business papers emphasizing the importance of corporate ethics.
 These can be used to give credibility to the idea of adopting a
statement like the above.


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Shane Martin Coughlan
e: shane at
m: +447773180107 (UK) +353862262570 (Ire)
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